Intelligence gathering increases, and so do interception errors

The annual report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner reveals that law enforcement agencies substantially increased the amount of data they gathered in 2012, compared with the previous year. 

By Joshua.Chambers

16 Aug 2013

The total number of warrants granted to intercept communications – for example, phone-taps and opening mail – was 3,372 in 2012, a 16% increase on 2011.

Meanwhile, the number of errors in these intercepts increased by 30% to 55. The reasons for these errors include storage of communications without legal authorisation, wrongful reactivation of interception, and failure to cancel a warrant for interception.

GCHQ made eight errors – slightly more than MI5, MI6 and the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, which made seven errors each.

The total number of requests to gather communications data – the ‘address’ information within communications – was 570,135 in 2012, a 15% increase on 2011.

In gathering this information, 979 errors were made – a proportional reduction from 0.18% in 2011 to 0.17% in 2012.
Most errors were a result of agencies using incorrect communications addresses or of gathering communications data in the wrong time period.

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